Hip Hop Film Festival
Courtesy of Hip Hop Film Festival
The 5th Annual Hip Hop Film Festival, the only festival in the world to focus on writers, directors and producers who grew up in the global culture of Hip Hop, returns for “Four Days of Fresh,” featuring film screenings, virtual DJ battles, master classes known as Master Cyphers, and more.
As with most film fests in the COVID world of 2020, the Hip Hop Festival is presented virtually and takes viewers on a journey of live events produced through 247films.tv from Thursday, August 6, to Sunday, August 9. What makes the Hip Hop Festival stand out is that, despite it being a virtual event, it is also a live event, occurring in real time. In addition, the festival is not simply showing films but also will be presenting DJ battles, rap battles and private watch parties. This isn’t a festival where content is merely presented on a platform, which makes the fest truly unique.
This year’s festival focuses on stories that matter, with nine different film categories including women-led stories, Black stories, social horror stories, and more. The Harlem Film House produces festivals and workshops to support the careers and share the stories of marginalized filmmakers around the world, creating an economic ecosystem.
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Over 200 filmmakers from around the world, including such diverse countries as France, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Canada, UK, Russia, Switzerland, South Africa, India, Japan, Portugal, Argentina and more, will present stories across genres including drama, sci-fi, action, thriller and more. The festival awards the distinction of “Best of the Fest” in over 21 categories including Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best Web Series, and more.
This year’s prestigious G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) Award honors the legacy of rapper, actor, producer, director, and writer, Ice Cube. Omari Hardwick will receive this year’s Icon Living Award for his contributions to the industry.
Special invitation-only press and industry screenings are slated for the top theatrical productions, and will only be accessible to verified industry professionals and those interested in acquiring the festival’s premium content for network or theatrical release.
Films meant to stream online (videos, web series and qualifying shorts) will be available for screening in the 247Live! Theatre—a sort of Netflix NFLX for the Hip Hop culture—and accessible to all pass holders.
The festival is the brainchild of C R Capers, who built a festival that would reflect multi cultures and would also highlight the need for Black filmmakers own the rights to their own films, as many artists in the music world do. The goal is to meld the artistic mind with the business mind. In addressing questions about the name of the fest, Capers states, “Some people suggested that calling it the Hip Hop Film Festival was counterproductive, suggesting that it sounded like a festival of rap movies. But what they don’t understand is that rap is music. Hip Hop is actually a culture.”
In speaking about her own start in the film world, Capers told me, “Watching so little TV growing up I got hit by the film bug at an early age, but instead of going the film school route I instead went to (New York electronics store) B & H and bought a camera and off I went to make movies. I trained myself.”
Hip Hop Film Festival Master Cypher
Courtesy of Hip Hop Film Festival
In its fifth year, the Hip Hop Film Festival continues to build upon its mission of providing a platform for filmmakers from the global culture of hip hop and promoting economic sustainability for filmmakers. Capers adds, “What is so vital to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) filmmakers is that we are creating an entire ecosystem, not just movies. Caring about Black lives also means caring about the Black economy.”
Focusing on creating the aforementioned balance of art and commerce she adds, “It’s wonderful that our stories and our visions are coming out, but we also have to feed our families with our art.”
This is one of the main missions of the Harlem Film House, a 501© 3 corporation, produces film and music festivals, operates year-round workshops, theatre productions and live events, while also offering business consulting to filmmakers and content creators in underserved communities around the world. The Harlem Film House creates an economic ecosystem by providing filmmakers services and resources to ensure longevity in careers in film, theatre and related entrepreneurial pursuits.
Through its sponsors and partnerships, the Hip Hop Film Festival will award prizes that help festival winners to finance and distribute their content. This year’s Best Festival winner receives a meeting with NBC Universal UVV for the opportunity to direct a national television episode. The winner of the Best Web Series competition receives an acquisition meeting with BET Networks. Revolt Networks is offering acquisition and licensing meetings for the Best Feature Documentary and Best Short winners. The winner of the ACT UP! Screenwriter’s competition will receive an acquisition meeting with Theo Rossi’s production company, DosDudes, and direct entry into Final Draft’s Big Break competition.
This year’s G. O. A. T. recipients could not be more worthy. Ice Cube is the legendary music artist and actor who co-founded the iconic group N.W.A. After leaving the group he was a regular on the charts, landing six of his ten solo studio albums in the top 5 on the Billboard charts. An accomplished actor, he has starred in films such as Boyz n the Hood, Ride Along, Are We There Yet, and Straight Outta Compton. His most recent film was The High Note, in which he starred with Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson.
Omari Hardwick has spent six seasons on the critically acclaimed Starz program, Power, and has also been seen in the feature films The A-Team, Kick-Ass, For Colored Girls and Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna. His newest film, D is for Detroit, is currently in post-production.
The festival is also debuting content on REVOLT TV to showcase the best talent that the HHFF has to offer with a takeover of the network’s top-rated program Short & Fresh.
For more information on the Hip Hop Film Festival visit hiphopfilmfestival.org.